PAIR MAKE promising start

Walsden's Richard Sladdin
Walsden's Richard Sladdin

Walsden and Todmorden got their seasons up and running in encouraging fashion with a victory each last weekend.

Walsden started their Central Lancashire League title defence with a 37-run win at Clifton last Sunday while Todmorden were overcoming a brave challenge from visitors Great Eccleston in the LCB Cup at Centre Vale .

Tod get their first taste of Lancashire League action in 2013 when they go to Rawtenstall on Sunday while Walsden will be hosting Littleborough in a derby on the same day.

Walsden’s delight at their opening success at Clifton was tempered by concerns surrounding a couple of their quicker bowlers.

Jamie Shackleton was taken out of the Walsden attack at Clifton with a tweaked knee while Stevie Barker didn’t make the line-up after straining a hamstring in the friendly at Barkisland on Saturday.

Chris Dewhirst’s side made 177, boosted by Kris Halstead’s 57 from 88 balls at the top of the order after the visitors had been sent in.

Nick Barker (25) added 58 after the visitors had slipped to 52 for three, county second team player Steve Cheetham finishing with four for 23 for the hosts.

Although Walsden conceded plenty of early extras with the ball, Jake Hooson bowled both Clifton openers and the home side slipped to 69 for six before showing some fight.

Walsden’s new pro Richard Sladdin helped finish them off with three wickets for 50.

Walsden will be checking on Shackleton and Barker prior to the match against Littleborough, who also won their opener.

Sunday’s visitors have Aussie Clinton Perrin back and have signed ex-Lancashire, Surrey and England leg spinner Chris Schofield.

The highlight of the Barkisland match, which was called off due to rain after the hosts had made 147, was a hat-trick for Joe Gale to finish off the home innings.

Walsden’s thirds start life in a new league, the Manchester Association, at Unsworth on Saturday.

Todmorden skipper Andrew Sutcliffe chose to bowl against Great Eccleston in a game reduced to 37 overs per side.

The visitors got off to a flyer with the openers putting on 60 before Sutcliffe turned to spin.

The run rate then dropped and Eccleston slid to 100 for five before but a couple of visiting batsmen hung around to lift the total to 168 for seven, which the home skipper thought was 20 or 30 more than they should have got.

Simon Newbitt and Ben Sutcliffe got Tod’s reply off to a good start, taking the score past 50 before Newbitt was caught in the deep and Kris Garland soon followed.

Elliott Gilford and BenSutcliffe played well in a half-century partnership and when the former was out with 10 overs to go, Tod still needed 68.

A quiet couple of overs left the hosts needing 40 off three but Paul Senior smashed 14 from four balls and in the final two overs Ben Sutcliffe slog swept the spinners for several boundaries and a six.

Sutcliffe emerged the hero with 76 not out as Tod edged through with a ball to spare.

Tod only had half a game in Saturday’s friendly at Hyde, who made 240 from 40 overs.

This weekend Tod play Bacup in a home 45-over friendly on Saturday (1pm) when new Sri Lankan pro Geeth Alwis is expected to make his debut.

On Sunday’s match skipper Sutcliffe said: “Rawtenstall have made some very good signings and they have got a very good pro (Pieter Malan). Hopefully we can hit the ground running and get ourselves a victory.”